Look at it from any angle, there always seems to be something or the other outworldly about Sweden, in a flattering way. It is a unique country in itself―lonely, yet connected to the world―and every time one visits Sweden, he/she gets a feel that the country and its people like being that way. And this may be precisely the reason why it has grown to become a tourist’s delight―not very outlandish, but distinctly foreign. Sweden has a wonderful mixed bag of wonders to offer to the visitors―frozen wastelands, virgin forests, state-of-the-art cafés, amazingly comfortable cottages, and years and years of Viking lore and culture; however, the attitude of the Swedes that values moderation and practicality rather than mere show makes the place aesthetically more appealing.
Planning a Swedish Vacation
Perched on the topmost part of northern Europe, between Finland and Norway, Sweden is undoubtedly a Scandinavian gem. The largest of the five Nordic countries, Sweden boasts of unparalleled natural beauty, an extremely rich history, and an absolutely amazing blend of indigenous and urban cultures. To the first-time visitor, it seems like a land of the familiar, yet mysterious people straight out of a fairytale―it has got everything that can completely enchant you. If you are planning to visit Sweden this vacation, here’s a brief guide to help you plan your trip.
Best Time to Visit
- Despite its location near the Arctic Circle, Sweden is not as cold as one might expect. In fact, while the southern half of the country experiences a temperate climate all through the year, the summers also tend to be pretty warm, even in the north.
- The peak time to visit Sweden is during summer and autumn, between the months of May and September.
- People who wish to go on a hiking vacation to Sweden should avoid going in the months of June and July―the peak of the mosquito season.
- If your plan is to travel during Christmas or midsummer, please carry out an in-depth research before booking your trip. On major holidays like these, most of the country is closed for at least two or three days. So, make sure that you do not land in Sweden during the shut-down period.
- The vacation period in Sweden lasts from late June to about the middle of August. Owing to this, most budget accommodations, such as hostels, are crowded. If you are visiting during this time, make sure that you book well in advance.
Tip: During this time, because budget accommodations are in more demand, most hotels offer huge discounts, sometimes up to 50%. Try to avail these discounts when you book your accommodation(s).
- Winter in Sweden generally lasts from about November to March, and this is the tourists’ off-season. However, if you are planning for activities such as skiing and dogsledding in the Swedish Lapland, this is the perfect time for you to visit.
Travel Documents and Visas
- If you are an EU citizen, you will not need a visa to stay in Sweden for up to three months. All you will need is a valid passport or a National Identity Card (passport is preferred more).
- Citizens of the US, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand also do not need a visa, but only a valid passport, for a stay of up to three months. Moreover, the citizens of New Zealand and Australia who are aged between 18 and 30 years can also apply for a yearlong working-holiday visa.
- All the other Asian, African, and Eastern European countries require a valid visa (maximum validity is up to three months for tourist visas) for an entry into Sweden. This can be applied for at Swedish consulates in respective countries, and it takes at least two months to process.
- Make sure you obtain all your visas, permits, and other travel documents well in advance of the date of your journey.
- Sweden is an expensive country, so if you are a budget traveler, you will need to do a lot of pre-planning before embarking on your journey.
- Accommodation is not cheap, and though hostels may seem to be moderately priced on face value, there are surcharges, which are added to your final bill. So, check this out before you check in.
Tip: The cheapest kind of accommodation in Sweden is camping, which is free of cost in most parks, except in some commercial areas.
- Food is also equally expensive in the country. If you really want to save some money, opt for outdoor street vendors who sell fast food. Sit-down restaurants are pricey, but you can opt for the daily special menus for lunch, in order to save some bucks.
Tip: If you are camping, consider cooking your own food. It will help you save a lot of money.
- Transport in the country is also on the expensive side; however, using public transport rather than the private one can be more economical.
Tip: To save more money on transport, book bus/train tickets at least a month in advance. This way, you can avail some great discounts.
- Most museums and attractions around the country charge a fee; however, there are some free ones as well.
Tip: Get City Cards, which can be bought at all major tourist centers throughout Sweden. These are tourist passes, which give you free access to the city’s public transport and many major attractions.
- Make sure that you carry enough warm clothing when you go to Sweden. It is not advisable to buy it there, owing to the high prices.
- No special vaccinations have been recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) before traveling to Sweden. However, if you are traveling from any of the countries falling within the Yellow Fever zone, you will need to take a shot for the same.
- Make sure that you are updated with respect to all the other common vaccines, viz., measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, polio, and diphtheria.
- Taking a hepatitis shot is also advisable as exposure can occur anywhere in the world.
- If you have been recommended any special medication(s), make sure you carry it with you, along with your doctor’s prescription.
- Also, make sure that you know the generic name of your medicine, in case you need to buy it in Sweden, as the brand name may differ.
Tip: In case of emergencies, head to one of the state-run medical facilities, rather than a private one. You will have to produce your travel documents there, but you can avail proper treatment at a moderate cost.
- Before departing for Sweden, see to it that you obtain a good travel insurance that covers for all kinds of emergencies. It is better to be prepared for the worst possible scenario.
- First and foremost is health coverage. Make sure that your travel insurance covers for all possible health-related issues, including accidents.
- Your travel insurance should also cover for the loss/theft of luggage, cancellation of your trip, and so on.
Other Money-saving Tips
- Opt for beer more than other alcoholic drinks, as heavy taxes have been levied on alcohol in Sweden. Beer, on the other hand, is fairly cheap.
- Buy tourist passes, which will give you good discounts. You can either buy these online or from any of the tourist centers in the country.
- Advance booking of buses, trains, and other forms of public transport is highly recommended. Book at least three to four weeks in advance to save up to 50% of the total cost(s).
- Avoid taking cabs unless absolutely necessary. Private taxis are extravagantly expensive, and unless you are in some sort of an emergency, it is not recommended to take them.
- Mineral water is immensely expensive; plus, the use of plastic bottles is hazardous to the environment as well. Tap water is safe to drink, and is free of cost.
- Avoid going to clubs, as you will end up spending much more than your actual budget may allow.
- Avoid going out alone at night, even if it is to public places. While Sweden is a safe country, petty crimes such as pickpocketing and bag snatching are on the increase in some of its major cities, including Stockholm.
So, head to the land of the Vikings, and make the most of your Swedish holiday. Don’t forget to spend a night at the famous Ice Hotel, built from ice during the winter!